The Labour Group on Suffolk County Council have today launched a campaign aimed at ending ‘Period Poverty’, an issue which affects an estimated 1 in 10 girls.
Opposition Health spokesperson, Cllr Helen Armitage, has proposed a motion to the Council calling on them to do all they can to end the scandal of young girls and women missing school because they cannot afford appropriate sanitary wear.
This issue is something which affects many young women with increasing numbers of school days being lost in Suffolk. As more families are pulled into poverty, tampons, sanitary towels and other hygiene products become increasingly unaffordable.
The motion calls on Suffolk County Council to commit just £15,000 to provide feminine hygiene products in maintained schools, special schools and pupil referral units for those that cannot afford them to ensure that girls can go to school without the stress and anxiety that having a period can cause.
Cllr Armitage said; “This council has a legal and moral responsibility to remove as many barriers it can to deliver a high-quality education for all young people. We know that young girls are missing school every month simply because they are from less wealthy families.
“We know that the more time pupils spend out of school the harder it is for them to catch up their missed learning. For a very small amount of money this council could ensure that these girls have the education they need and deserve.
“The reason why girls miss school is because they are embarrassed and ashamed that they have to use newspapers, towels and other inappropriate substitutes instead of suitable sanitary products.
“The fact that girls have to sit all day with newspapers in their knickers means skipping school is the easiest solution. This is a very sorry state of affairs, but Suffolk County Council have the power to change this.”
The motion is seconded by Cllr Kim Clements who said; “Period Poverty is not new; I have spoken to women who recall issues with access to sanitary products during their early teens who are now in their 30’s and 40’s.
“This issue should not be continuing in 2018. No young women should have to miss out on their right to participate fully in education or other activities due to lack of access to appropriate sanitary products.
“The term ‘Period Poverty’ should not exist in the modern world.”
The motion also calls on the council to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, to ask him to remove VAT from all sanitary products.
The text of the motion reads:
This council strongly believes that no girl or young woman should be forced to use socks, newspapers or other inappropriate substitutes as sanitary wear due to their financial circumstances.
Therefore, this council vows to end ‘period poverty’ by pledging £15k to provide free tampons and towels in all maintained schools, including special schools and PRU’s in Suffolk.
Further to this, Suffolk County Council will do all it can to encourage all academy trusts, sixth form colleges, and other education institutions in Suffolk to follow suit and also provide free sanitary products.
This council also calls on the Leader of the Council to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer asking him to make all sanitary products VAT free.
Want to help support the campaign? Write to your local county councillor and ask them to support our motion: www.writetothem.com